Mental Health Fear of Stigma in Asian Cultures
As an Asian American therapist, I understand the fear of seeking mental health help for Asian Americans. I cannot speak for all Asian cultures, but there is a sense of fear of being stigmatized as "something is horribly wrong with you" or "you don't need mental health help, just get over it" kind of statements that seem to hinder Asian Americans to seek help when needed. Since I have become a therapist, those from Asian cultures have approached me privately asking if seeking counseling is ok as an Asian American - actually quite a few of them. Of course, you know what my response is - yes, of course!
Below are some statements I often hear from Asian American individuals...
I don't have any emotions.
I can get over it.
I don't want to talk bad about my family or parents.
I grew up not expressing how I feel so I don't know what it is.
I was told I couldn't express my weakness. I wasn't allowed to cry or express sadness.
My parents were always angry and fighting.
My wife, husband, partner wants to talk about feelings but I don't want to.
I wonder if you relate to any of these statements. It's ok if you do. It's ok if you don't. All of us have unique upbringing and experiences that have left imprints that carried with us into adulthood.
Try This With Me....
Close your eyes and visualize sitting on the beach, with some distance from the water, and imagine the emotions and thoughts as waves in the ocean. The waves come into shore, stays for a few seconds, and then it goes back out. Some waves are big where you can see it build up from far out. Some waves are smaller where it's not as big. Both come into shore, stays for a few seconds, then it goes back out.
Emotions are a part of what makes us human beings. It naturally happens. It comes and it passes. The more I acknowledge and recognize I have them, the more I am able to navigate through them. Navigating through the hard emotions is a learning process, takes time - in essence, how do I respond to them and not impulsively react to them. This is a part of emotion regulation.
I sincerely, hope and desire more Asian Americans would be open to mental health conversations such as talking about difficult emotions and feelings. I hope you do too!
If you want to learn more about emotion regulation contact me. :)